The graduate-level course, Communication Protocols and Internet Architectures, will use multimedia to deliver online lectures. Students also will take exams, collaborate for class projects, and turn in assignments online.
Harvard is by far not the first university to hold classes online, but it marks a move by a prestigious university to broaden its reach via the Net.
"The Internet has been a major part of my lectures for many years, and I look forward to using the technology itself to make the course available to many more students," said Len Evenchik, the instructor of the course.
Harvard's extension school, which is offering the class, has more than 13,000 students. It also offers computer-based distance learning courses in mathematics, in which students turn in their work over the Net.
The Ivy League university isn't the only institution of higher learning beefing up its online offerings today. Next month, 20 new instructors from Denmark, Germany, India, the Philippines, Canada, and South Africa will teach free online courses through Spectrum Virtual University.
Spectrum is a nonprofit institution and offers noncredit courses on Internet Law, genealogy, psychology, and other topics. All classes on taught over the Web, and class discussions are held in online chat rooms.